The Answers to Your Top 10 MMA Questions

Every day my inbox is flooded with questions about Mixed Martial Arts. People want to know how to improve their conditioning. They want to know how to recover between training sessions. And they’re trying to figure out how to improve without getting injured.

Chances are, you probably have these same types of questions. And you’ve probably even spent some time on blogs, forums and around the web, trying to get answers. Problem is, you keep getting conflicting answers, right?

For example, just pop onto any MMA forum and ask this question: “Should I kick with my instep?”

I guarantee that you’ll get conflicting advice. Some people will tell you to kick with your instep. Another group will advocate that you should only use your shin bone. And just to make it extra confusing, you might even get a few people telling you to do the complete opposite.

So you’re left to sort through all the conflicting information.

If you’re new to that particular community, it’s even harder because you don’t know who to trust. Because the truth is, there are plenty of wannabe Martial Artists or coaches who want you to think they know what they’re talking about – but they’re just as clueless as everyone else. And in some cases, these types of people are offering downright dangerous advice.

That’s why I compiled this list of frequently asked questions from our email magazine issues & some world class trainers.

I wanted to make sure you got the right advice from someone who’s successfully navigated the world of MMA and continually surround myself with some of the world’s best athletes and coaches.

Read on…

Should I kick with my instep?

Short answer, No! (unless of course, you want to break your foot!)Honestly, all sarcasm aside, the only benefit I can think of is the greater distance covered when hitting with the instep with a kick like a roundhouse. It’s just not worth it in my opinion.Here’s why: Your foot and ankle have 26 bones, 33 joints, and more

It’s just not worth it in my opinion.Here’s why: Your foot and ankle have 26 bones, 33 joints, and more than 100 muscles, tendons, and ligaments.Try this little exercise : Make a fist, and knock on the top of your foot like if

Try this little exercise :
Make a fist, and knock on the top of your foot like if you're knocking on a door. You’ll notice how fragile that area is.

Your better off hitting with the shin, the ball of your foot or heel. (depending on the kick of course).Now whether you're kicking with shoes or barefoot is another can of worms

Now whether your kicking with shoes or barefoot is another can of worms because, in savate, they kick with the point of the foot. (they wear shoes) and it's incredibly effective. If it’s a street fight, this is incredibly effective.The bottom line : Avoid kicking with the instep, with other options available, it's just not worth it.

What's better, palm strike vs closed fist?

I love Firaz Zahabi’s take on it.

It’s not about which is better, it’s a matter of structure.
So, at the point of impact, the object with a stronger structure will break the weaker one.

If your ankle hits my shin, my shin will win. Likewise, if your fist hits my skull, your hand will break.

The key then is to ensure that the structure that your hitting is weaker then the structure you will be hitting it with.Both strikes are useful, it really depends where you’ll be using it.

What’s the most valuable wrestling technique that’s applicable to MMA?

Get to the body, meaning you get the under-hook position, and you can get your hands locked and can get control of his body, that would be the No. 1 thing.

What is the most difficult thing about teaching MMA fighters how to wrestle?

The hardest part is taking a guy that has been a striker his whole life that wants to come in and learn how to avoid take downs, and getting them to fall in love with it.

You don't get good at something without being passionate about it, and wrestling is not fun when you are just getting beat up on every practice.

They usually don't start learning until the start liking it, and they don't start liking wrestling until they start having success with it. That is difficult to teach.

- Leister Bowling (coached several MMA fighters in the UFC and other organizations.

How often should you spar in MMA?

 "The purpose of a fight is to give your opponent a concussion. That's the purpose of a fight.

That's never going to change. Sparring once a week, maybe once every other week, and only sparring to prepare for a fight.

"You don't need to spar during off season. You don't need to spar 12 weeks out from a fight. 

Spar maybe four to six weeks out from a fight. If they want to get more conditioning, go run, go grapple, go wrestle, hit the bag.

You don't need to get hit in the head to become a better fighter."

- UFC fighter and WEC champion Jamie Varner

When are you to old to fight?

That's a personal question that only the person asking can really answer.

What I mean is, only you know how you feel physically, mentally and emotionally.MMA, kickboxing etc. are vicious sports and you have to be prepared to partake in it.

With that said, there really is no magic number. Some people fight well into their 40's and older.Yes, the human body has limitations and our speed, athleticism will decline over time that's just how it goes,

BUT, each person is different and it’s really a personal choice.One thing I can say is, be honest with yourself and don't make excuses.

If you're 100% committed to competing and you feel fine, then go for it. Make sure your healthy to do so and pursue it.

Why is it so important for mixed martial artists to possess lower levels of body fat?

Excess fat does 2 things:
1. It slows you down.

2. It hurts your endurance.There is no need to be carrying around excess body fat in combat sports. The excess fat will slow you down every time your throw a strike, shoot for take down etc.

Also, lugging around excess bodyfat is absolutely exhausting. Body fat is nonfunctional tissue with very little purpose.

Your goal should be to be as lean as your opponent but with more muscle mass.Example: Your opponent weighs 180lbs @ 16% bodyfat which equals 151.2 lbs of lean body mass.

Let's say you also weight 180lbs @ 8% bodyfat which equals 165.60 lbs of lean body mass.That means your actually 14.4 lbs bigger then your opponent with the exact same weight! All things being equal, the advantage is HUGE!

What do most martial artists lack?

Consistency & structure.

Consistency: Most martial artists want to learn the latest and greatest technique, which is fine, but you need to put in the time, and reps.

You have to be willing to do the technique hundreds, thousands of times before you can truly make it yours.Structure: Most martial arts gyms are like buffets. At a buffet, you get to pick whatever food you want.

So, we tend to only pick the foods we like and avoid the one’s we don’t like, or, have never tried. (usually).in martial art's it's very similar.

“what do you guys wanna work on today?” That’s typically how the class is structured.

Without structure you can’t build on anything. So, you have a variety of techniques which you may or may not have truly mastered and now your just throwing in random techniques.

What are some of the common training or fighting injuries that can be easily avoided or treated?

"Injuries to the knees and shoulders.

They are the same injuries that many wrestlers have and most likely for the same reason: over training. In MMA a competitor has to develop and maintain high level striking, wrestling and ground work, in addition a fighter has to be in great condition.

Therefore, they do their fight specific training and then conditioning, or worse yet, fatigue themselves doing their supplemental conditioning and then try to push themselves in wrestling, live grappling or sparring and get injured.

If a fighter is over trained his muscles are not as strong, yet they keep pushing and then, not wanting to give up or lose, end up getting injured. It is not just about simply training hard, it is about training right.

Fighters have to listen to their bodies and trainers have to listen to their fighters. If a fighter has all the ingredients to be a champion, he probably will also not want to appear weak, and always want to push hard.

It is up to the trainer to design program that will allow the fighter to progressively develop their conditioning and skill level so that they peak on competition day.

Then they need to rest, recover and reevaluate their performance. The fighter can then spend extra time to develop speed, strength, explosiveness, stamina, power. Also, the fighter can now spend extra time technically expanding their game"-MMA Trainer Greg Nelson

Should I worry about my electrolytes being depleted?

First of all, you want to make sure that you’re properly hydrated before your training session and drink water during and after it too.

If your training for over an hour and its high intensity, and you’re sweating a lot then you’ll want to begin sipping an electrolyte replenishing drink. A lot of athletes go with Gatorade but I don’t like it because of the sugar content.

Try to find something natural that you can put in your water.If it’s not a super intense workout then you can wait until you’re done your training session. "

Just keep in mind that the more water you drink, and the more you sweat, the faster you’re flushing out your electrolytes.

Common symptoms of electrolyte loss are muscle cramping, twitching, spasms, weakness, fatigue, and nausea. You’ll just feel like absolute shit.

If any of these symptoms show up or become severe stop your training and immediately replenish your electrolytes and fluids.

About the Author Ricardo Vasquez